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Laser assisted epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK)

The vast majority of laser refractive surgical procedures carried out today are LASIK (around 95%), however, if the cornea is thinner than average, and where it would be difficult to treat all of the refractive error using LASIK, a different method termed LASEK can be adopted.

LASEK (laser assisted epithelial keratomileusis) is essentially a variation of PRK but, instead of a LASIK corneal flap being fashioned, a thin layer of surface corneal epithelial cells is moved to one side and the laser treatment is then applied to the exposed corneal surface. The epithelial cells are then replaced and a soft ‘bandage’ contact lens is inserted to protect this cell layer. This lens is removed 5 days later. LASEK can be thought of as ‘a half-way house’ between PRK and LASIK and is significantly more uncomfortable than LASIK in the first post-operative week. If the epithelial cells come loose in the first few days the eye becomes painful in much the same way that it would have been following standard PRK.

Visual recovery is also delayed as compared with LASIK and the quality of vision within the first week after the operation is poor. In addition, when LASIK was first introduced some surgeons treated very high levels of myopia and the resulting corneas were too thin i.e. too much tissue had been removed. Since these corneas could become distorted and unstable (corneal ectasia) concerns were expressed and LASEK was put forward as a method to eliminate the need for the corneal flap. However, there is no evidence that LASIK treated corneas become unstable or cause long-term problems as long as well-established treatment guidelines are respected.


Royal Derby Laser Vision Clinic
Derby Eyes Eye Surgery Derby
NHS Appointments:
Carole Meredith, Tel. 01332 787514
Private appointments:

Sue Da Silva, Tel. 07900210191
Nuffield Health Derby on 0300 790 6190
Laser Vision Centre:
Sue Da Silva, Tel. 08006 125 175
Derby Eyes Eye Surgery Derby
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